High-rise apartment plans for Weston 'difficult to get right'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 January 2020

An artist's impression of the Walliscote Grove development.

An artist's impression of the Walliscote Grove development.

Archant

Flagship plans for housing on Weston magistrates' court and former police station could be scaled back.

North Somerset Council wanted to create a swanky apartment complex comprising 52 flats standing up to 14 storeys high.

However, the authority's development chief says high-rise buildings are more complex which has led to delays.

More: Council seeks permission to demolish old 'eyesore' Weston police base.

Offices, commercial units and up to 28 more homes at the Walliscote Grove Road site were also mooted but progress stalled because of 'fundamental viability concerns'.

Speaking at North Somerset Council's scrutiny panel meeting on January 3, Councillor John Crockford-Hawley said: "Money has been spent and we've got absolutely nowhere, other than reports.

"We've got a site, but nothing."

Jenny Ford, the council's head of development, said: "We're hopefully going to go through a new commissioning exercise to bring forward new proposals.

"The work has not entirely gone to waste.

"There was an aspiration for a great high-rise building on that site.

"The bigger the building, the more piling you have to do, the more lifts you have to put in, fire escape issues, market attractiveness - it's a difficult one to get right.

"The new commission would have a more open mind as to what the right development is.

"It would still be a good standard, setting a good tone, but probably not to six, seven, 13 storeys, that we've previously thought of.

"The emphasis will be on its being deliverable.

"Commercial elements will be included from the start to make sure the proposals are realistic."

North Somerset Council bought the police station and listed magistrates court in 2015.

The old police station has been demolished and staff have moved to a new base at Junction 21 in 2017.

A report to the scrutiny panel confirmed a new commission - to bring forward 'more deliverable proposals' for the site - is expected to be launched in January.

The report states: "The design and development process is expected to be supported through Homes England and the One Public Estate programme but in the short-term will be underwritten by North Somerset Council."

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